P900M worth of shabu seized in Cagayan

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Philippine law enforcers on Sunday, July 3, recovered at least 180 kilograms of methamphetamine or “shabu” worth about P900 million during a joint operation in Cagayan. 

At around 5:30 pm on Sunday, personnel from the Bureau of Customs Intelligence Group, the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG), the Ilocos Norte police provincial office (PPO), Cagayan PPO, Special Action Force (SAF), and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency seized the illegal drugs in a farm in Barangay Culao, Claveria town, Cagayan. 

During a press briefing on Monday, July 4, newly-installed PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said the operation was triggered by information passed on to him even before he was formally appointed the country's top cop. 

Dela Rosa then cascaded the information to newly-installed AIDG chief Senior Superintendent Albert Ignatius Ferro. 

At least “seven black bags” and “one big blue ice box” containing substances that appear to be shabu were unearthed from an empty lot in Culao village in Claveria town, according to Senior Inspector Ronnie Labbao, information officer of the Cagayan PPO. 

The lot is owned by a certain Rene Dimaya. Investigators, however, have yet to determine the syndicate or personalities that run the drug ring itself. 

According to a source privy to the operation, some 180 plastic bags containing over one kilo of shabu per bag were seized. The 7 travelling bags were reportedly marked with "Lea D." 

Documentation of the seized substances was done in the presence of media groups, the barangay chairman, and the town mayor.  

According to Dela Rosa, the bags of shabu are from overseas and are typically brought onto Philippine shores through nearby coastal areas. The shipments are then brought to the Binondo area in Manila, the Philippine capital.

PDEA chief Isidro Lapeña expressed hope the Sunday operation would inspire more citizens to come forward with information on illegal drugs. Dela Rosa noted that the informant came forward not becase of any possible monetary reward but "sheer patriotism."

"Isipin mo ilang bata masisira ng buhay. Ilang tao ang mabubuang nito (Think about how many young peoples' lives would've been ruined by these drugs. How many people would have been destroyed by these drugs)," he said.  

The 180-kilogram haul is among the biggest in recent history, and the first major operation under the term of President Rodrigo Duterte and of Dela Rosa. Duterte won the 2016 elections on a promise to eradicate corruption, criminality and illegal drugs in the country. 

Dela Rosa's marching orders are for him to do just that within the time frame Duterte has promised: 3 to 6 months.

"In the coming days, we expect more arrests and operations against syndicated crime groups engaged in drug trafficking," the PNP said in a press release. – with a report from Raymon Dullana/Rappler.com